Say Hello To Our New Bakelite Flatware

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I’m 33 years-old, soon to be 34 (get your gifts ready, we’re talking 2/18), but no moment has made me feel older than the moment I found myself, on a Friday night, spending hours on E-Bay looking at flatware. “How did this happen?” I asked myself when I realized what I was doing. “I used to be a vital young person with my whole future ahead of me and now I’m comparing forks and knives on a computer screen when I could be out there shimmying to the sounds of hip young musicians like The Jonas Brothers!” After I calmed myself, though, I accepted my new role as senior citizen. In fact, sometimes I feel like my whole life has been barreling towards this moment. I grew up loving “The Golden Girls.” I had more fun eating bagels with my grandmother, as a teenager, than going to concerts with my high school friends. Maybe searching for flatware on E-Bay on a Friday night has always been my destiny.

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10 Food Blog Posts That’ll Get You Traffic

This past weekend I gave a lecture at Food Blog South in Birmingham, Alabama. The title of my speech was “10 Food Blog Posts That’ll Get You Traffic” and though I was slightly nervous going in–this was my first time both attending and speaking at a food blog conference–I felt validated, after it was over, by the many people who thanked me for my presentation. Turns out, after nine years of food blogging, I have something to say on the subject. What follows, then, is basically the speech that I gave with images thrown in for good measure (I didn’t use PowerPoint when I spoke, so everyone just had to look at me and my colorful shoes). Hopefully the food bloggers among you will find this helpful.

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Fear of Mayo

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Jimmy Fallon likens it to pus. Last night at dinner, the idea of it made Craig’s cousin Katie scrunch up her face in disgust. And me? I used to have nightmares about this female camp counsellor with a hairy lip who ate an egg salad sandwich with dabs of mayo stuck all along the perimeter of her lips. Just thinking about it now makes me cry a little on the inside.

What is it about mayonnaise that provokes such disgust and fear in so many people? And what can they do to get over it? Allow me to speak from personal experience.

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Down With Communal Tables!

[Image via I’m Only Here For The Food]

At long last, after weeks of waiting, we’re going to that great restaurant everyone’s been talking up. We’ve pinched pennies, we’ve cleared calendars, we’ve read the reviews online and the menu and strategized endlessly about how and what we’ll order. Only: this place doesn’t take reservations, so we’re showing up early and hoping for the best. Here comes the hostess now, she says she can seat us right away. We follow her past tiny tables, where pitying eyes peer at us over elongated menus, to an extended piece of wood surrounded by chairs and covered with half-finished plates and half-sipped glasses of wine that all reverberate with the noise of countless voices chattering at high speed. This, we soon learn, is the dreaded communal table and before we can express our willingness to wait for a two-top or a four-top or any top that’s not a communal-top, the hostess drops the menus and flees.

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One Year in L.A. (A Reflection)

I came to L.A. with the most open of open minds. As New Yorkers twisted up their faces at the news (“L.A.? You’re moving to L.A.?”) I held my head high with secret knowledge. My secret knowledge was mostly food-based. I knew about Jonathan Gold, one of our nation’s greatest food writers, who, in writing for L.A. Weekly and eventually the L.A. Times, had canvassed the city so thoroughly, so meticulously, his writing archives were like living treasure maps that could keep a food-lover like me endlessly occupied. I knew about L.A. farmer’s markets, how the Santa Monica farmer’s market and the Hollywood Farmer’s market would put the Union Square farmer’s market to shame with its year-round, sparkling produce. I knew, like a sports fan evaluating his new home turf, that while my old team had legendary heroes like Daniel Boulud, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Eric Ripert, my new team had its own share of superstars: Nancy Silverton, Jose Andres and Susan Feniger, to name a few; also, up-and-comers Ludo Lefebvre, Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, and Michael Voltaggio. Plus: L.A.’s Mexican food, Chinese food, Korean food, Thai food, and sushi are the best you can find in the United States. I held all of this secret knowledge aloft in my brain as I boarded the plane from J.F.K. to L.A.X. with my cat under the seat in front of me and a feeling of endless possibility in my chest.

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A Meditation on Green and Yellow Sour Patch Kids

In the dark of a movie theater, as the opening credits scroll across the screen, you’ll see me in my seat engaging in a strange ritual. It begins by removing a single Sour Patch Kid from my box of Sour Patch Kids, holding it up to the light, and evaluating its color. Depending on whether it’s a red/orange or a green/yellow, I either pop the candy immediately into my mouth or press it aggressively into the space between the plastic bag inside the box and the box itself. At the end of the movie, I have a bellyful of reds and oranges and a boxful of greens and yellows. This, I’ve come to realize, is no way to live.

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Dinner at Rick and Chuck’s (A Memory)

The letter was in an envelope in my pocket, folded in half. Even though I knew this would produce a crease, I figured a crease was better than walking into my professor’s house holding a mysterious envelope, especially with three other classmates arriving with me. “What’s that letter?” they would probably ask and what would I say? Which is why the letter was in my pocket.

The house was handsome, made of brick, and shrouded by trees. I arrived early (as I tend to do) and sat in the car for a bit killing time rather than be the first to ring the doorbell. Did I bring a gift? I wouldn’t have brought wine because I wasn’t old enough to buy wine yet. It’s possible that I showed up empty-handed, except for the letter.

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